The Brooklyn-based brewery takes over at the former Nedloh's site.

EAST BLOOMFIELD — The news that beer lovers have been waiting months to hear is here. Finally.

The Brooklyn-based Other Half Brewing is open at the former Nedloh’s site on Routes 5 and 20.

For Paul Kraeger of Henrietta, who has been hearing about it “forever” and anxiously awaited its opening, the chance to sample an IPA or a sour or a stout — or maybe all three — was too much to resist for a Friday happy hour.

“This place is great,” Kraeger said. “I think everyone is so psyched to have a draft here.”

The Brooklyn-based brewery purchased the building last year and since November has been selling its product from the site during wildly popular can releases. Just a week ago, customers stood outside in line while vehicles queued up out to Routes 5 and 20, a scene that has been the norm.

Other Half Brewing partner Matt Monahan acknowledged that getting to the opening has taken a lot longer than he first thought — the hope was to open in February. But it’s here, he’s excited and so are the customers.

“There’s life in the building now,” Monahan said. “You’re so nervous all the way up until day one and then to see people be as excited, if not more excited, than you are is awesome. Coming in and having a good time and feeling the vibe here and having people be grateful you’re here — we’re grateful we’re here — that’s like magic.”

Count Doug Rooney of Rochester as a fan. He’s visited the Brooklyn location and friends of his have brought him back beer on their visits.

The moment he heard of the opening, Rooney said he had to check it out.

“It’s going to be really big for the area in terms of beer,” Rooney said. “I feel like it’s going to encourage other breweries to branch out and tighten up their quality. It’s going to make them strive to be better.”

The Other Half Brewing is open seven days a week: Mondays to Wednesdays, from 2 to 8 p.m.; Thursdays, from noon to 8 p.m.; Fridays, from noon to 10 p.m, Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sundays, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“We’re just excited to be part of the community,” Monahan said.

Taste NY

John French is a fan of the Taste NY stores and Welcome Center Markets, particularly the relatively new center in Geneva.

Arbor Hill Grapery & Winery’s Concord Grape Preserves has been introduced to so many visitors, as has its best-selling Black Raspberry Celery Seed Dressing and Champagne Garlic Mustard, said French, who is sales manager at the South Bristol business.

“I’ve had numerous patrons stop at Arbor Hill Grapery & Winery and Brew & Brats at Arbor Hill who have reacted quite favorably to their experience at the new Welcome Center,” French said.

French’s customers are not alone.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced recently that sales in 2018 increased to a record $17.8 million, an increase of $1.7 million over the previous year.

That’s due in part to the opening of the Geneva center last May as well as several other locations throughout the state.

According to state figures, the Taste NY initiative has seen steady growth as evidenced by the program’s reported sales from $1.5 million in 2014 to $16.1 million in 2017.

French said he has no idea the volume of Arbor Hill products at the Taste NY locations, but he did say it is always increasing.

Kevin “Clarky” Clark, who produces Clarky’s Twisted Sauce, said having space at the Taste NY sites has been helpful to him, although he will sell more sauce when customers have an opportunity to taste it, such as at Twisted Rail Brewing Company, where several dishes are made with his sauce.

Also, Clark said he’s had newfound success at a special wing night at Nick’s Chophouse in Canandaigua, where another chance to taste the sauce is planned on Wednesday night.

Tastings are more of a sure thing when it comes to sales of his sauce, but he can’t argue with the opportunity that comes with having space on a shelf.

“It’s good exposure,” Clark said. “I think it’s a good thing and it helps some.”

Part of the appeal of the Taste NY program is promoting local products, as well as shining light on the state’s vibrant agricultural community, with more than 35,500 farms in New York.

The educational approach used to share all that is available in the scenic Finger Lakes region is important, French said.

“They are certainly a phenomenal boost to tourism in the Finger Lakes, and I’m sure their 2019 season will stimulate even greater results as they promote all the region has to offer,” French said.

Several products from local producers are available at the Finger Lakes Welcome Center on Seneca Lake in Geneva. To check out the list, visit taste.ny.gov/location/finger-lakes-welcome-center.

 

‘Maple explosion’

U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirstin Gillibrand are pushing to secure no less than $5 million in federal funding to support maple producers in upstate New York.

According to their joint announcement on Friday, the senators said the funding would help create opportunities for investment and research for maple syrup and for helping to increase its production.

New York is the second highest maple-producing state in the country, behind Vermont. According to figures provided by the United States Department of Agriculture, the U.S. produced more than 4.27 million gallons of syrup worth about $147 million in 2017. While production has nearly doubled, the U.S. is behind Canada, which is responsible for 85 percent of the world’s maple product.

New York produced 806,000 gallons of maple syrup in 2018, Schumer said.

“New York is in the midst of a maple explosion,” Schumer said.